What's for Dinner? by IgnobleBard

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Written for Chaotic Binky's Valinor Slash Awards 2013


Lindir was having second thoughts about asking Legolas to teach him survival skills. He had often been in the woods surrounding Imladris but his visits were more about solitude and enjoying the songs of nature, not seeking food, water and shelter, and he always made sure to pack a lunch and return to the Last Homely House before dark. Now here he was, tripping over tree roots in dim twilight, struggling to keep pace with his companion’s longer stride, and Legolas showed no signs of slowing.

When Legolas finally halted, Lindir tried to figure out why. In this part of the forest the trees were so close together there was nowhere to sleep but on a tangle of tree roots.

“Uh…” Lindir began.

Legolas looked up into the surrounding trees.

“Oh, no,” Lindir said, horrified. “You can’t be serious.”

“Have you never climbed a tree?” Legolas asked with an exasperated sigh.

“Well, yes. Of course. Not lately.”

“It’s like riding a horse, you never forget.”

“Uh…”

“Look,” Legolas broke in, “all you have to do is grab a low branch and pull yourself up.” He demonstrated, pulling himself up onto a branch, then dropping back to the ground. Lindir, a head shorter, jumped for a lower branch and missed by a good two inches. He hung his head.

Legolas laid a warm hand on his shoulder and Lindir looked up to see him smiling gently. “We could build a lean-to on the ground but you might not like the creatures you find sharing your bed.”

Lindir shuddered. “Maybe a boost then?”

With Legolas’s help, Lindir was able to climb far enough above the ground for protection. He clung like a frightened raccoon to the trunk while Legolas made a camping talan out of springy, leaf-studded branches. When Lindir stepped on it, he wobbled but managed to sit without danger of tumbling off. Legolas sat down beside him and offered the canteen, Lindir drank…and drank. He handed the canteen, now considerably diminished, back to Legolas, who capped it and put it away.

“You didn’t drink,” he accused, thinking Legolas meant to show him up again.

“I’m not thirsty,” Legolas replied. “Besides, you’ll need some for the return journey and there is no guarantee of finding fresh water until we reach the Bruinen.”

“You mean that’s all we have?” Lindir said, aghast. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Legolas smiled broadly. “There wasn’t time.”

Lindir’s spirits sank lower than the setting sun. “Oh, Legolas, I’m so sorry. I didn’t expect this to be so hard. These forests have sustained our people for thousands of years. I wanted to learn what it was like to live off the land as my ancestors did. I didn’t realize I would prove so useless and weak.”

“I thought you might be getting in over your head,” Legolas admitted, “but you were so eager I could not refuse. Do not think yourself weak though. Within the realm of your expertise you are much more knowledgeable than I.”

“Now you are just being kind,” Lindir grinned.

“Maybe a little,” Legolas teased.

Lindir burst into a musical laugh. “I’ll try to do better tomorrow,” he promised, his words nearly drowned out by his growling stomach.

“You’re hungry.”

“What tipped you off?” Lindir said, deadpan.

Now it was Legolas’s turn to laugh. “All right, just get your pack and we’ll see what we have.”

“My pack?” Lindir said weakly. “I haven’t had my pack since…”

“Since we stopped for the lesson on edible berries,” Legolas finished. “You mean you didn’t bring it when we moved on?”

“I guess I forgot,” Lindir said.

“A night of hunger is a good memory cure,” Legolas said grimly.

“No food, no water,” Lindir sounded panicked, “and it will take us two days to get back. What shall we do?”

“What do you mean “we”?” Legolas said with an evil gleam in his eye.

“You wouldn’t!” Lindir cried.

“Of course not.” Legolas couldn’t help but chuckle at Lindir’s terrified look. One would think missing a meal was the worst thing to ever befall the man. Maybe it was.

The stars were twinkling above and a soft southerly breeze made the tree sway. Lindir gripped the edge of the flet until his knuckles turned white. “Will you hunt then?” he asked when he found his voice.

“There’s no game in this part of the wood,” Legolas said. “Besides, do you really want to see what it takes to dress a rabbit, and eat it raw? The flint box was in your pack too.”

Lindir gulped. “Not really. Then what shall we… I mean, what will you do?”

“I’ll go find us something,” Legolas said. He stood up and the flet swayed, causing Lindir to make another grab for the edge. Legolas disappeared over the side, quick as a squirrel, and was gone from sight.

Lindir took a deep breath and closed his eyes. The night forest filled his senses. He heard the rustle of branches, the call of an owl. He smelled the scent of moss and rich earth borne on the breeze that stroked his face like a lover. He opened his eyes to see Legolas sitting across from him and nearly jumped off the flet in shock.

“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to sneak up on you,” Legolas said. “I managed to rustle up some grubs.”

“Don’t you mean grub?”

“No.” Legolas opened the pouch at his belt and drew one out. “I was lucky to find these,” he said, popping one into his mouth and chewing with satisfaction, “they only eat the roots of beech trees, and only this time of year.”

“Lucky indeed,” Lindir said, averting his eyes.

“You’re not going to be like that, are you? I assure you they’re very tasty.”

“Going hungry is a lesson I must learn,” Lindir said stoically.

“Nonsense. If you were out here on your own and starving you would have to eat something like this or die.”

“But I’m not and I don’t,” Lindir insisted.

“Don’t be so stubborn. Here, let me show you.” Legolas sat down next to Lindir who edged away, wobbled, and was forced to move closer again.

Legolas pulled out another grub. “Now pay attention, this might save your life someday. See these little white streaks here around the mandibles? This tells you it’s edible.”

“Fascinating.”

Lindir found he could not tear his eyes away as Legolas bit the grub in half and held the other half out to him.

“Strangely, half a grub is even less appetizing than a whole one,” Lindir said, covering his mouth with one hand.

“Well, if you don’t want them, I brought something else.”

“Why didn’t you say so? Roots, berries?”

“Crickets!” Legolas said, producing one with a flourish.

Lindir gagged. “No thanks.”

“Suit yourself.” Legolas held the cricket up to his mouth, the tiny legs sticking briefly to his lips before he popped it in. A leg hung from the corner of his mouth, then there was a crunch and it was gone.

Lindir clapped his hands over his eyes.

Legolas pulled them away. Lindir looked deeply into Legolas’s eyes, shining like jewels in the starlight. He gulped, and this time it was not from nausea.

“Why did you really want to get me out here?” Legolas asked with a knowing look.

Lindir was taken aback for a moment. “I didn’t think… I only hoped…”

“I’ve never seen anyone blush by starlight before,” Legolas said. “It’s very comely.”

Lindir blushed deeper, but when Legolas kissed him he melted into it, savoring the musky, slightly nutty taste. He pulled back and felt something foreign on his tongue. He picked it out and it was a cricket leg. He slumped against Legolas, feeling suddenly faint.

Legolas held him close, stroking his hair. “Poor Lindir. You will faint from hunger if you don’t eat something soon.”

“I can’t,” Lindir moaned.

Legolas took a grub from his pouch and put it between his lips where it wriggled enticingly. He took it out and said, “It’s not the taste you know.”

“It’s the idea,” Lindir agreed.

“So don’t think, just do,” Legolas said. He put the grub in his mouth and kissed Lindir hard. The grub slipped into his mouth and Legolas pulled back. Lindir bit down and a smooth, slightly nutty flavor hit his palate. He swallowed and looked at Legolas in surprise.

“That was… not bad.”

Legolas took out a grub and gave it to Lindir, taking another one for himself. He lifted Lindir’s hand to his lips, raising his hand to Lindir’s mouth. They ate at the same time, following up with a series of increasingly passionate kisses. Legolas pulled off Lindir’s tunic and took out a cricket. Lindir held his breath when he felt the sticky little legs brush his nipple, letting it out with a soft sigh as Legolas drew it up his neck to his lips. Lindir ate it without hesitation, forcing himself to think of popcorn as he crunched it between his teeth.

After overcoming Lindir’s reluctance, they spent an enjoyable night on the springy flet sharing their meal, and everything else, under a blanket of starlight. Morning broke to find them lying in each other’s arms. Lindir gazed at Legolas. He never thought he could feel so happy.

Legolas kissed him on the nose and smiled. “So, do you think you could survive in the forest?”

“I might be able to survive the forest, but I’m no longer certain I could survive without you,” Lindir said with a dreamy smile.




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